Shamelessly Seeking Advice

Shamelessly Seeking Advice

I write a lot. 

Thousands of words per week, I am sure.

Most of it has a pretty small audience.

Most of it is not anything that I share with anybody or that has any "wheels."

Currently I am writing the following items:

  1. Research Questionnaire (PhD program)
  2. Discussion Guide (PhD program)
  3. Strategic Plan (for Pioneers – group project with leaders in Pioneers-USA)
  4. Book reviews on multiple books (PhD program)
  5. This blog
  6. 3-4 books in the idea stage
  7. 1 blog post for another blog
  8. An article for an academic journal
  9. Hundreds of emails per year (3,203 at work alone, not including the ones on my personal address)

That list just came off the top of my head – imagine what it would be if I really thought about it!  That adds up to thousands and thousands of words.

In light of all this, I struggle with the writing projects I really want to do.  They never get done.  Things like good blog posts that bring meaning and something useful to people.  A book project.  Soon, my dissertation.

Think about, for example, Rodney Stark or Mark Noll both of whom write more books than I have time to read.  Lately, I have been amazed by Ed Stetzer, who seems to write a book a week (ok, not really, but you get that impression if you follow him on twitter).

So here is my question: How can some authors pump out so much "stuff" all the time?  Is it simply a matter of managing time and priorities?  Or do they not have "real jobs" with meetings and budgets and other time demanding tasks? 


7 thoughts on “Shamelessly Seeking Advice

  1. Well, in the few writing conferences that I went to, it's a mix of time management and people not having other (not "real") jobs. Even in the latter case, it still requires quite a bit of time management. Before coming to Pioneers, I left my previous job to become a full-time writer. I bombed. I needed structure that I was unable to provide myself with.

    But, some people excel at that lifestyle. But it takes diligence. Lots of writers wake up at all hours of the night and write. They don't wait for their muse to strike, they just write. Even if it doesn't have anything to do with what they're working on, they write. AND, you just write to get the words on the paper, knowing that you're going to have to re-write the whole thing anyway.

    So… best advice, make some time, let your family know and just write during that time. Set a word count goal for each day and reach it no matter what (and don't include work stuff if you're aiming for a book). Brain dump when you need to and maybe even have a separate Word doc for that. Then just write.

  2. Muse? They get a muse? Can I get one? Does Apple make them? That would be cool, the "iMuse."

    Good advice on the word count. That's tough. I have to admit that I start to hate the keyboard by about 2:00 in the afternoon…. do I like writing? Sometimes I wonder.

    1. It's all about the training. I doubt (but don't know) that many boxers like punching a bag four hours on end. It's all the tedious nature of training.

  3. I find my largest obstacles to finding time to write had to do with (1) distractions/competing priorities, and (2) requiring too much time to get my head around where I was and where I was going with larger projects if too much time elapsed since last I'd worked on them.

    Strategies that helped include:

    1. Creating and protecting regular times to work on shorter projects, e.g., a couple hours on a Saturday morning to write multiple blog posts at once for publication throughout the week. As a single person I have a lot of flexibility to work on these things in the times and places that help me "feel like" writing – e.g., a favorite coffee house – but often just sitting down and starting will do the trick.

    2. Training myself and others that this was a priority, even if not my only priority. A couple years ago I started keeping "work at home Wednesdays" largely so I'd have a block of uninterrupted time each week to work on writing projects, though I don't always use them for that. Being consistent about staying out of the office that day also seemed to help my relationships with my coworkers. (I was less likely to see inquiries and interruptions as intrusive as long as I got a day I knew I could work on "my" project without those interruptions.)

    3. For longer or messier projects, like the book-length stuff, just working one day a week may not be the thing; it takes me too long to get the project in gear at each sitting. Several times I've taken 3-5 days away in someone's mountain cabin to see if I could make a breakthrough on a book-length project that had gotten stuck or tangled. Probably – though I hate to admit it – it's best if there's no internet available in such a place. Just a good place to go for walks, a more helpful kind of break.

    1. Marti,

      Good thoughts. What harms my larger time blocks these days are the interruptions that come through the computer screen. WordPress, twitter, facebook, etc., are all begging me to break off of my concentration.

      I do Friday's in my home office.

      I also have discovered that the first two hours of the day are my best contribution times. So… getting to the office at 7:00 AM is priority for me.

  4. We enjoy reading MANY of your words — I managed to agonize over the most recent update and spent a whole day writing a single page. I AM NO WRITER, though several friends send kind words so I don't completely give up on it. Currently I am reading Philip Yancey's GRACE NOTES: DAILY READINGS. You must take a look at his June 24 and June 25 notes. It speaks directly to his own struggles to write. What can one say ? . . . just keep it up.

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